Apoidae have characteristics similar to those of sphecoid wasps. Like bees, adult wasps browse flowers for nectar. The main difference between the two groups lies in the fact that bees use pollen as their main source of protein, and feed their larvae in the same way. Wasp larvae, on the contrary, are carnivorous, feeding mainly on insects and spiders.
There are seven Apoidae families in the world, six of them in Quebec: Colletidae, Andrenidae, Halictidae, Melittidae, Megachilidae and Apidae. The first five families consist of solitary bees, although some of them do exhibit some degree of socialization. The last family, the Apidae, includes both social and highly social species, like honey bees, Apis mellifera Linnaeus, and bumble bees (Bombus spp.). These insects live in colonies. Most solitary bees are said to be non-social, meaning that there is no worker caste and no co-operation among individuals. Each female builds her own nest and harvests her food. Solitary bees feed their larvae by providing them with all the pollen and nectar they need before closing their cells. Adult females in the genera Apis and Bombus feed their larvae as necessary throughout their development.
Bees have mouthparts suited to chewing and licking. They suck up flower nectar with their “tongues” and use their mandibles to build their nests and cells.
Solitary bees make three kinds of nests: ones dug in the ground, ones in hollow trees or tunnels in deadwood, and nests made out of resin or mud and tiny pebbles. Inside the nest, the cell walls are made of wax, bits of leaves and petals or resin.